Landscape with Snow Vincent van Gogh Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Landscape with Snow is an 1888 oil on canvas painting by Vincent Van Gogh. It is the first piece that the artist painted when he moved to Arles. Van Gogh was tired of the winter season in Paris, so left in search for sunnier conditions.

He headed south to Arles but was surprised when he encountered a snowy landscape upon arrival. Provence had experienced a record snow season that winter. On 24 February, when most of the snow had melted, he set up his easel and worked on Landscape with Snow.

The Arles Landscape

Van Gogh presents the landscape from the furthest end of a snowy path. The road seems to stretch to the end of the fields, touching the skyline ever so slightly. It's a setting of the Last Crau plains, which take up most of the painting. Van Gogh used a mix of colours to represent the fields and everything else going on. Patches of white show the snow covering the fields. He used browns to depict the ground in places where the snow melted off. Green and yellow daubs represent the flowers and plants growing alongside the road. The colours provide a vivid contrast of the different elements.

The road starts at the left-hand corner of the painting and stretches to a red cottage at the end. A snow-covered Montmajour is visible in the distance with colourful vegetation and hills all around. Van Gogh added a man in a red coat and a brown dog in the scene. The two seem to be moving along the road, which adds depth to the painting. It appears as if Van Gogh was walking behind them or sitting at the edge of the path watching them.

Japanese Inspiration

Van Gogh loved Japanese art woodcut prints and collected them over the years. He probably got some inspiration from these. When he moved to Arles, he hoped to infuse Oriental ideals into the art culture there. In a letter to Theo, his brother, Van Gogh said that he foresaw that other artists would want to experiment colours under a stronger sun and 'in a clarity of light that was more Japanese.' The artist used colours in a manner similar to Japanese art. From the white of the snow to the browns of the bare ground, he set a tone with each shade. Instead of blue skies, he used a light purple hue to show an impending storm.

According to a letter Van Gogh sent to his brother, he painted other pieces the next two days. Snowy Landscape with Arles in the Background was one. The painting is in a private collection in London. The artist completed a lot of works while in Arles. The landscape paintings he did later provide more details than Landscape with Snow. Currently, Landscape with Snow is at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 2017, the US President, Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump requested the painting to decorate the Executive Residence, but the museum denied it.